Il Castelloamare la fortezza di Palermo fino al 1923
The Castle to sea of Palermo

Origin of the fortress and its circumstances until 1615
The existence of a fortress, found  near the ancient port of Palermo to control the access; some authors suppose it is  precedent to the X century.
The first reliable news on the existence of the Castle are of Normann's age, when, in the XII Century, the Nordic monarchs widen and restored the fortress. A miniature of the 1195, contained into "Libbre a honorem Augusti" by Pietro da Eboli, represents the rock as a complex of  remarkable dimensions, equipped of an important defensive system. Outside of this approximated representation of the fortress, a nearer Arabic mosque existed, is is documented. Transformed to Church by the Normann's and by them, dedicated to saint Giovanni Batiste. An other ancient church, always of the Normann's period, was inserted in the factories of the fortress: it's the one of the Bagnara.
Beyond to the attesting news of the existence of these two churches, other info of the Castle are not known about its factories neither its architectonic shapes while it's known the history, always intimately tied to the important facts of Palermo's and Sicily's vicissitudes. In 1333 war ships of Roberto d' Angiò tried to take the castle, without however succeed. Federico II of Aragona lived in the safe fortress in 1374.
The Castle sea, due to its vital strategic position to defend  the city, and entirety for the possibility that it offered to its rulers to defend from the city, came not run of the centuries continuously magnified, restored, renewed in its defense works.
In Century XIV the Castle consisted in a series of smaller fortresses encircled from deep ditches for the side to the mainland, in which a great door in direction of the city was opened, and already was fortified of sad and horrendous prisons basements that later will be used, with remarkable happening, from the Dominican Inuisition. In 1496 Ferdinand the Catholic built, in front of the factories of the Castle, aan entrance, consisting in two low hexagonal towers, divided by a wall in which the door was opened. Later on, always for the catholic monarch's initiative, it was built a circular tower, on the left of the entrance. In 1517 the Vice-king's government thought well to transfer from the Palace of Chiaramonte to the Castle, due to the emergency and in fearing an escape from well governed people.
During the first half of century XVI, the use of the artilleries carried to some transformations of the fortress and its new setup; they were constructed in fact, all around the circle of the walls, the bastions of the Castle, great compact masses of masonry and earth, built to absorb the resist to the dynamics action from the batteries placed over.
A step of the Fazello gives some indication of these jobs of the 1558. Fortifications of "... the old rock, than Castel  is called, because three parts of it are covered from the sea, and was made from old for the guard port, but the Saracini made us over a mosque in onor of Maometto, which, being gained, hunted from Roberto the Guiscardo, and Ruggero his brother, then was restored like it's written into the annals of the Sicialian, and in the life of Ruggero, but in my time from Carl V Emperor it was fortified with the strongest bastions, and bastions... ".
In these jobs of adaptation of the fortress to military the technical's new it was demolished the old red Arabic mosque. During the permanence of the viceré at Castellammare, were born at the fortress: Don Francisco Gonzaga and Don Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga both become, later on, Cardinals. In order to adapt in some way empty atmospheres of the fortress to the luxury of the noble persons, the Castle was equipped of precious works of art, between here the two magnificent bronze rams, masterwork of the Greek of III Century, one of which remained, conserved at The Archaeological Museum of Palermo.
In the 1487, under Ferdinand the Catholic; Palermo, poor, badly governed, hungry person, the first Inquisitor, to add to the delights of the noble power the one of the Church, and to the hunger of poor the rope of the executioner. After alternate vicissitudes, and after that the viceré had freed the field, the"court" of the Inquisition really busy to torture and toburn live men and women which the misery and misfortune evidently were not enough, he quartered himself to the Castle, in 1551, under viceré De Vega.
The sad prisons of the castle, small holes bury where with difficulty a man entered, they then knew hundred and hundred of victims who the Dominican ones, in name of the catholic faith, subjected to tortures and pain. The ecclesiastical court of the Inquisition stayed at the Castle until 1593, year in which one strongly explosion caused a great number victims, between persecuted and persecutory, convincing the Dominican ones to change center; therefore about that event an authori of the age tells us: " the 19th of August, hours fifteen approximately. To Castellammare of this city of Palermo was set afire to two dammusi [ room covered from powder time ]; and being close the jails, all the scacciao. And morsiro anco various soldiers and women within the castle, having made two botti extraordinary, than felt themselves for various lands. Various S' opened pel such earthquake houses and ecclesie, having left some fathers the sacrifice of the putting for fear. And the men who found themselves put in the bags, a lot was capoliati and stepped on from stones. Various pieces of men for infino in noare [ earth space were found in which ortaggi ] outside the door of S. are cultivated George; and in means navy one testetta killed one gypsy; and a lot was the smoke that darkened the sun. And pure it raised a lot polverazzo and flakes, than piovve for the city for the space of miserere earth abbrugnata.... They were found after, to head of three five and seven days, alive men under earth... while they were digging died them. monsignor the inquisitore Paramo was in saying castle; and it was badly, curandosi in the convent of S. Domenico... was viceré the Conte of Olivares, castellano of Salazar ".
In this disaster Antonio Veneziano, stopped to the Castle due to a satiric trust against the vicerè died also the monrealese poet, hung "... to the cantonera of don Peter Pizzinga, to the plan delli Bologni " and tortured in the prisons of the fortress, as infamous the criminal proceedings of the time commant; the poet had, for that trust, very seven sections of rope, he was locked up in one of orrende the cells, and here he found the dead women in the remembered disaster.
The Dominican ones, as a result of this explosion that gave two hundred victims, thought that it was well to transfer their evangelic charity elsewhere, choosing like center of just the court the historical Palace Chiaramonte. The center of the prisons remained however for an other period inside the Castle, exactly until the 1609, year of the transfer of the places of delight of the prisoners of the inquisizione to the " Steri ", after one short use of the " Vicaria".

Historical vicissitudes and description of the castle at sea from 1615 to 1820
The student Di Giovanni left a good description of the Castle as it was in Century XVII (the description in issue is of  the 1615): "... the castle is so solid as a bastion, over the port, supplied of  much beautiful artillery; it follows a curtain and, after, a bastion, and then a large tower, and a bastion under the artillery tower all very supplied where make the debite guards lookouts. The castle end is all encircling from the sea but turning towards tramontana, follows a beautifulst bastion here, that it watches towards the large port, and from placing watches the city, and also supplied of most large artillery... this bastion... it has in means a large tower, in order where for two long bridges of wood, for the pit, is entered in the foretold Castellammare; and  two bridges raise for the large entrance with chains. A wide public square, with a great male in means, which is the highest antenna, where there's the real banner. It has this male much beautiful pieces of colombrine, that they greet from lungi approximately four miles ".
" There are within beautiful buildings, and for the Castellano, and the Inquisitori getlteman who stayed there before, and if  they exited when succeeded the fire of the castle. It has as guard approximately forty soldiers... was before the jail... that dismise for saying fire... in which approximately 600 prisoners  they flew for the sky..  they are jails secrets but cruelest... ". In front of the Castle, in front of the body of Aragonese income, there was an immense space where sometimes `justice" of the time, or the Church of Inquisition, they show ferocity, in public executions, hangings, roghi, to make the people happy and  maintained in ignorance By all means possible a political power and from a church that just in the ignorance found the just most valid one allied ". After abandonment of Castle to sea from part of inquisitori, fortress came still used, more than against dangers external, like bastion and brake to ferments of revolt that, of when in when, the misery and the deprived of hope will of redeem they ignited into Palermo's inhabitants.
In Century XVII other construction and defense works came to strenghten the fortifications of the Castle  that had to play a small role during a French-Spanish naval battle, therefore described from the Auria: " a French boat vessel pulled cannon fire, with balls of moschetto, to the curtain of the castle to sea, between the two towers, where it assisted the Castellano to make shoot the artillery, with very many people: and if they reached sign little more, they would have made great massacre, being the Castle, from the part of the sea, weakest, and all uncovered, and of factories means ruined from the time... " the battle turned in favor of the French until the participation of the artilleries of the city maestranze that ne turned upside down the fates.
The Castle to sea would have been still protagonist of many vicissitudes and battles, memorable that one of the 4 July 1718 between the Savoiardi, strengthen deep within, and Spanish. A strong sismic movement, that it would have destroyed many buildings of Palermo, caused in 1730 some damages to the fort, that they came but repaired quickly, given the always pre-eminent tactical function of the fortress. Other battles followed, that had, in some way, the Castle as protagonist; to remember those fought between Austrians and Borboni, that ended with the yield of the garrison Austrian of the fort to these last ones, the 12 september 1734.
Later on to estabilish and to consolidate the Borbonic government, the fort served just like to fear and brake the city and its enemies, by now definitively asleep after the Centuries of Spanish goverment Spanish, Inquisition, ecclesiastic's being. Last worthy vicissitudes of famous that were involved the castle to sea were those that regarded the noble attempt from part of the liberal ones, unfortunately against the borbonico power, and whose last battle was fought just in the fortress.
The destruction of the Castle to sea
The fortress of the Castle at sea, due its continued use in the several course of centuries, was gone by hand of  hand magnifying around its old nucleous, in part eatin' em, in part destroyin' em during the several remaking and the new buildings. In 1558 the ancient mosque, transformed in Church from the Normann's, was demolished as described into the most ancient report of the Castle. The other Normann's Church was demolished, much more recently, in 1834. And so on between constructions and demolitions, until the fatal 1923, year in which the Castleone introduced normous architectonic, rich complex of structures and factories of several ages: a great male of Arabic age, with a registration on its base, Normann's bastions and '400 zone of entrance, a Rinascimental palace, a '500 church, the Madonna di Piedigrotta, and many others. Until 1923, we said, and in fact from the june to the December of that year the historical fortress came conscientiously demolished by means of dynamite charges, with the pretest to arrange the new port of Palermo. Most scholarly memory writes La Duca author of one on the strong historian: "..... nothing they were worth then the protests of the intellectual part of the citizenship, and also the authoritative voice of the " Society for History Native land " reaisen in defense of a monument legacy to the history of the renaissance sicialian ".

Grifasi - Almanacco Siciliano dei ricordi - (immagine riservata)
A. Grifasi - 21/09/2000
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